Updating macOS is the surest way to keep your computer secure, while giving you access to great new software features. At some point, every Mac user will need to install an update, but some people may encounter problems in the process.

The most common update problem with macOS is that the progress bar gets stuck and the update never finishes. If this happened to your Mac, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of fixes that you can try below.

Here are the steps you can follow to fix each of these problems.

1. Restart or force restart your Mac

The IT person solving all your problems is a cliché for a reason. Restarting your computer closes errant processes and frees up memory, allowing critical macOS processes to run correctly with all the resources they need.

To restart your Mac, open the Apple menu from the menu bar and click Restart. If you can’t restart (perhaps because your Mac is frozen), you can force-shut down your Mac instead.

2. Check Your Internet and Network Settings

Since you’re downloading your update over the Internet, you probably should check to see if you’ve encountered any network issues.

The first thing you should do if you suspect that the internet is the problem is to restart your router. If you use an Ethernet cable, you’ll also want to make sure it’s properly plugged in. And if you use private Wi-Fi, consider increasing your bandwidth by disconnecting inactive devices on the network.

If you can connect using an Ethernet cable, you should choose that over Wi-Fi. This is because Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi and guarantees fewer downloading problems.

You can also increase your internet speed by using a public DNS server.

Lastly, you may want to check whether an antivirus or VPN program is restricting your Internet connection. Apps like those have security features that can block downloads and updates. Temporarily disable it and retry the update to see if it improves.

3. Connect your charger and free up space

Your Mac must meet certain requirements in order to complete the update. Sudden loss of power can cause data corruption. Therefore, if the battery gets too low your Mac may freeze updating until your computer is plugged in.

Updates can also be large, taking up a lot of space on your drive. Your Mac may have run out of space, which has stopped it from updating. Free up space on your Mac by cleaning out old files and media, using a cleaning app, or using more iCloud storage.

To find Apple’s storage management recommendations, open System Preferences and click General > Storage. Click the i next to each item to see your options for freeing up space.

4. Install the update in Safe Mode

Safe Mode (or Safe Boot) is a diagnostic mode that forces macOS to boot with only essential background processes running. It will scan and repair your computer and clear cache files. While in this mode, you can run macOS Update as usual and see if it works in Safe Mode.

Macs have several different boot modes, and the methods of accessing them change for Apple silicon or Intel models. To learn how to put your Mac into Safe Mode, take a look at our guide to macOS Boot Mode.

5. Reset Your Mac’s SMC and NVRAM

NVRAM is a section of your computer’s memory where it stores key settings information and kernel panic information. If your macOS software update is paused, resetting it may help. When my macOS update got stuck, resetting the NVRAM fixed it. Follow these steps to reset NVRAM.

Resetting your Mac’s SMC is also important for fixing many underlying hardware communication problems. The way to do this depends on which Mac you’re using, so it’s best to check out our dedicated guide for instructions.

6. Check if Apple’s servers are working

If the update problem isn’t caused by your internet connection or computer, then most likely it’s a problem with Apple’s servers. Your Mac needs to communicate with Apple’s servers in order to download your macOS update. However, Apple servers may become unavailable due to various factors

One of the most common factors is traffic. Like real-life highways, servers can get congested because too many people are trying to access them at once. When Apple releases new software, there may be hundreds of thousands of people trying to download it right alongside you. In other rare cases, the servers may simply be down.

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